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SW residents share their vision for the West Portland Town Center

News Article
A multi-cultural group gathers to discuss the future of housing, businesses and jobs, health and the cultural life of their community.

“West Portland is a beautiful place that I spend most of my time in because of my community. I would like to see more affordable housing, a food market, and a community center.”

“I want it (West Portland Town Center) to be a real place that naturally draws many people rather than cars to the area, aka, a SW PDX living room like Pioneer Courthouse Square.”

“I’m proud of the growing cultural diversity in our neighborhoods so my son can grow up with greater understanding and appreciation for other cultures and languages.”

“It (West Portland Town Center) needs to become highly walkable, with many things to buy, i.e., produce markets, etc., that cater to neighbors rather than tourists. It needs to become a true urban village.”

So, said just a few of the participants at the West Portland Town Center Kick-off Event on a recent Saturday in April. 

About 60 residents of the area gathered at Markham Elementary, including a large cohort from the Muslim community. Somali, Arabic and Swahili translators were on hand to help foreign language speakers join the conversation and share their hopes and dreams.

After signing in and reviewing information displays, attendees were welcomed by Coya Crespin from Community Alliance of Tenants and Seemab Hussaini of UniteOregon, who shared personal stories, information about their organizations and the communities they serve, and led a native land acknowledgement.

West Portland Town Center Plan staff then gave a brief project overview before people broke into groups for facilitated discussions about four topics:

  1. Community and cultural life
  2. Affordable housing
  3. Businesses and jobs
  4. Community health

Notetakers captured their ideas, which are summarized in a “what we heard” report. Common themes emerged from the conversations, including:

  • A sense of pride in the community.
  • Concerns about residential and cultural displacement.
  • Walkability, pedestrian safety and traffic congestion.
  • Better connections between people and places.
  • Culturally relevant gathering spaces.
  • Focus on children and families.
  • More food options.
  • A multicultural/commercial hub or marketplace.
  • Jobs and training for low-income residents.

After the discussions, participants enjoyed music by Ghanaian artist Okaidja Afroso and food from Muslim Educational Trust. The conversations continued as people ate and children danced.

To read more about what people had to say about West Portland Town Center planning see the kick-off event notes

Reminder: Join us Saturday, June 15 for a walking tour of the area

Community members are invited to continue the conversation during a walking tour of the West Portland Town Center area on Saturday afternoon, June 15 - 1 to 4 pm. We want to hear about:

  • What areas in your neighborhood are good, bad or just need some attention?
  • Where are the places your kids walk or bike that could be safer?
  • What would give you more commercial or service options closer to home?

Tours will start at Markham Elementary at two times: 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Translation, childcare (ages 3+) and refreshments will be provided.

Details and more information about the walking tour

New: Data maps for West Portland Town Center Plan study area

While we continue to collect important qualitative information from community input at events like our June walks, quantitative data also tells an important part of the story. View the newly posted West Portland Town Center data atlas to learn more.